Saturday College Basketball Mid-Major Best Bets: Keg’s Bottom of the Barrel Picks for Feb. 5
Photo by Bryan Woolston/Getty Images
- Our college basketball betting analyst, Keg, highlights his favorite mid-major games to bet on Saturday, Feb. 5.
- His top three games to bet today include Mercer vs. Chattanooga, Liberty vs. Eastern Kentucky and UC Irvine vs. Cal State Northridge.
- Read on to find out which sides he's on today, including full analysis and strike prices for each of his picks.
Bottom of the Barrel Picks for Feb. 5
Get excited because there's only 37 days left until Selection Sunday.
The WCC and the Mountain West have the same number of teams in Bracketology as the ACC and the Pac-12.
It's time to start mentally preparing yourself for a world where 15-seeded CSU Fullerton knocks off 2-seeded UCLA in the first round.
Let's take a loot at what's on deck for this weekend in the mid-major landscape.
Mercer vs. Chattanooga
If you've kept up with me or this weekly piece at all this year, you know how much I love the Chattanooga Mocs. They are one of my favorite teams to watch and bet on this year. However, you can't just blindly bet because you love a team and its energy,
Saturday, the Mocs will square off against Mercer, which is just two games back of Chattanooga in the SoCon standings. The Mocs are a 12.5-point favorite over Mercer, which in my opinion, is too many points.
Chattanooga's offense has been one of the best in the SoCon — there's no doubting that — and Mercer has one of the worst defenses. But when you look at what these teams have done more recently, I think Chattanooga is getting an inflated number.
VMI and The Citadel both have defenses that grade out worst than Mercer. The Mocs have played both since Jan. 22, beating The Citadel by 15 and VMI by just four. Yes the Mocs will play this game at home, but they are just 5-3 ATS in their last eight.
The Mocs will likely pull out the win, but I think this game will be closer than the line reflects. I would take Mercer as low as a 11.5-point dog.
Pick: Mercer +11.5 or better
Liberty vs. Eastern Kentucky
The Flames will look to put a bow on their three-game road trip with a win over EKU. In the first two games of the trip, Liberty took down Kennesaw State, 65-50, followed by a 66-53 statement win over Bellarmine, in which it once again confirmed its the team to beat in the ASUN East.
Eastern Kentucky is 3-6 in conference play following a hard-fought, three-overtime win over Kennesaw State on Thursday. The Colonels have won three of their last five and have improved in some areas, but Liberty is a different animal.
EKU is scoring more points than anyone else in the ASUN — averaging 81 points per contest — but it's the third worst when it comes to FG%.
EKU scores so much because it moves at the 25th-fastest pace in college basketball. If you're taking more shots, you're bound to make more shots, right?
The bad news for the Colonels is that coin has two sides. Liberty is the most efficient shooting team in the ASUN, and the eighth-best in the country.
If Liberty slows this game down to its pace, the lacking EKU offense becomes stagnant, and the Flames will cover easily. If the Flames run-and-gun with the Colonels, they will still cover easily, they just might win 108-87 instead of 83-70.
This line is way too low in my opinion, so back the Flames to complete the road sweep.
Pick: Liberty -6.5
UC Irvine vs. Cal State Northridge
The Anteaters will look to stay above .500 and continue their winning streak as they travel to take on the Matadors Saturday night. UC Irvine has surged to 4-3 (with a three-game win streak) after starting conference play 1-3.
They are the better team, and I expect the Anteaters to win this game. However, there's value elsewhere in this matchup.
UC Irvine ranks 328th in adjusted tempo. It has the best adjusted defensive efficiency ranking in the Big West, it owns the second-best defensive team in the country when it comes to 2-point field goal percentage and its 22nd nationally in 3-point defense.
Cal Northridge ranks in the bottom-25 of Division 1 in adjusted offense, effective field goal percentage, 3-point shooting and 2-point shooting. It's also 307th tempo.
I'm not going lie to you: this game will likely put you to sleep faster than general anesthesia. But I expected this total to open around 117-120. Getting this number is just too good to pass up.
I won't be surprised if this game finishes below 110.
Pick: Under 123.5
Bottom-of-the-Barrel Beverage Recommendation
We've reached the point in the season where I am trying new Bourbons just to tell you about them here. And boy did I pickup a winner this week.
Yellowstone Select 115 Proof Barrel Select is one of the smoothest bourbons I have had in some time. It has a little bit of a smokey flavor, and there's no way I would've thought I'd like it. But it has more than impressed me.